Japanese Science Fiction Novels?

I am still a beginner but I wanted to find a list of Japanese authors that write science fiction novels so that when I am starting to really read Japanese, I know who to look for and keep an eye on at the local BOOK OFFs.

I love reading manga but I am not a big fan of the light novels. I am looking for something with a bit more substance. I have searched but I am not really finding anything other than light novels. Amazon Japan has not been much help, either.

Is there a Japanese equivalent to Heinlein or Asimov?

Thank you.


Murakami Haruki (村上 春樹)

Or you can flip through the winners of a Japanese sci-fi author’s award, like the Seiun Awarn (essentially the Japanese equivalent of the Hugo Award).


Doh! Thanks! I should have thought of something like that.

He wrote sf?? I was not aware of that. Do you remember the title?

Not hard SF, to be sure, but SF nonetheless. SF in the sense that 1984 is SF (no particular reference to 1Q84 intended :stuck_out_tongue: )

Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, for example. Or… 1Q84.

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I like 星新一. He’s famous for his SF short-shorts (stories that are a few pages long). Also 筒井康隆, who wrote the novels that got adapted into Paprika and The Girl Who Lept Through Time.


Well, I can see how 1984 would be sf (it is sf, after all), but 1Q84 is definitely not sf for me. There’s no speculative science involved. In France, 1Q84 is categorized as “fantastique” (supernatural, I guess :thinking:) I really like that type of literature, but I don’t think it fits what the OP was about. (Or maybe it does, and it’s just a categorization problem)

Speaking of which, I’ll check the other one out :slight_smile:


Yeah, he’s not really Heinlein or Asimov, and the line between sci-fi and fantasy can be extremely thin, but still…

Aspects of the “End of the World” part of Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World are extremely reminiscent of Haibane Renmei (if you’ve ever watched that), which raises the possibility that the book at least inspired the anime. (Still, I reckon the oddest thing about that book is that the Japanese title is the other way around - 世界の終りとハードボイルド・ワンダーランド = End of the World and Hardboiled Wonderland. Guess the official English title flows off the tongue better.)

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I would call it SF, but not 1Q84. I like Murakami, but I think a lot of his speculative work tends more towards softish magical realism and surrealism, depending on the book, because of the way the non-realistic elements are incorporated. But you’re absolutely right about Hard Boiled Wonderland (and the title localisation makes sense but always gives me a double take too… it’s kind of fitting…) Of course, science fiction has become fairly incorporated into the mainstream and the riffs on it have changed a bit. It’s only because of who OP named I would even think to comment (and pedantry maybe hhh…)

I did like your suggestion of using awards, though, a lot. Because of it I learned they revived the Hayakawa award, which could be interesting to OP too because they had a short story prize

There’s also Nihon SF Taishou, which isn’t restricted to literature and is interesting as a sample because of that.

On topic: Inter Ice Age 4 by 安部公房 is not in my opinion the finest by that author (who didn’t only write ‘pure’ SF), but I liked it, it was seminal, and you might like it too. Just 'cause you asked for classics kind of.

I don’t know about a Heinlein or Asimov analogue. I would add to the other recommendations 小松左京, who wrote a lot of futuristic apocalyptic SF.

I think there’s gonna be a talk on the historical / social influences on Japanese scifi here in a few days. Wanted to go but can’t. :frowning:


Just wanted to mention Mori Hiroshi. I randomly bought one of the books of his newest series. According to Wikipedia he writes science fiction / mystery fiction. I can’t comment on how popular he is or how well his books are written, but you’ll surely find some books by him and can take a look at what kinds of themes he writes about. Most of his books are part of a series of up to 10 volumes, so don’t make the same mistake I made and start with volume 5. :smiley:


神林長平 - 戦闘妖精・雪風

Just listened to ひいきびいき episode where in their ひいきメン segment listeners recommended them various SF小説. Here is a list:

  • 星界の戦旗
  • 戦闘妖精・雪風
  • 銀河ヒッチハイク・ガイド
  • 華竜の宮
  • ペンギン・ハイウェイ
  • リングワールド
  • 夏への扉
  • 不動カリンは一切動ぜず
  • ハーモニー
  • 虐殺器官
  • サマータイムトラベラー
  • イリヤの空、UFOの夏
  • 幼年期の終わり
  • 海に降る

There were many other suggestions, but those were the ones they read out loud.


Awesome! Can’t wait till I’m at a point where I can read SF and Fantasy in Japanese!

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i’m interested in that, too, but i’d narrow it down a lot. asimov, heinlein, scalzi, those are not necessarily “hard sf”, they’re not all “space opera” either, but “something in that direction” would be what i’d want.

the problem is that, while there exist paperbacks of most good books, even a giant like asimov doesn’t have kindle versions, and that’s what’s killing it for me at this stage (lvl 28).

i’ll probably get them when i’m lvl 40+, should be able to read a lot more then, without having to depend on the kindle dictionary all the time.

as for “a japanese heinlein”, nope. there is none. japanese sf is all right, but it’s not the same thing. won’t find a hyperion cantos, foundation, three body problem, vorkosigan saga written by japanese authors.

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“All right” is good enough for me :slight_smile:
I’ll try to dig in @NickNickovich’s list when I have a bit more time :slight_smile:

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Somehow I don’t think 銀河ヒッチハイク・ガイド counts as Japanese sci-fi. :slight_smile:


リングワールド, 夏への扉 and 幼年期の終わり are also translations from English.^^

Some other Japanese SF novels that I heard of:

  • 旅のラゴス
  • パプリカ
  • NO.6
  • All You Need Is Kill

Also, according to Japanese Wikipedia 星新一, 小松左京 and 筒井康隆 are called 日本SFの御三家 (Big Three of Japanese SF).

Legend of the Galactic Heros ( 銀河英雄伝説 Ginga Eiyū Densetsu) is a fantastic series of Space Opera, full of war, politics, and decently deep social commentaries.
The anime (which is excellent as well) is one of the most mature I’ve ever seen, with an unforgettable cast of characters and as it’s extremely long (120 episodes), you feel like a part of yourself has died when you finish it.


This, by the way, is the basis for the film Edge of Tomorrow, with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.


gonna check it out, thanks

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